The Pennsylvania Department of Health today expanded eligibility for the swine flu vaccine, saying health-care providers that had already immunized patients most at risk could now make vaccine available to the general population.
Since the vaccine became available a little more than two months ago, it has largely been limited to groups that a federal advisory panel identified as most in danger of complications from the flu or most likely to transmit it to others.
How to interpret and enforce those recommendations, however, has been left to state and local governments. They, in turn, based decisions partly on how much vaccine was available - and likely still will.
A spokesman for the Philadelphia Department of Health said that any resident who wanted the vaccine could now get it at any of the dozens of walk-in clinics scheduled around the city through Saturday.
New Jersey is not ready to expand eligibility, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Senior Services said today, although officials have said that they were evaluating supplies day to day.
Public flu vaccine clinics scheduled throughout the region are posted at http://go.philly.com/flu/
"Even though influenza activity in the state is declining, it is still very important for people to get immunized because a third wave of H1N1 is expected to occur in the state. The best way to protect yourself and your family is to get vaccinated," Everette James, Pennsylvania secretary of health, said in a statement.